Gear and Grooming Basics
Getting the basic gear is just the start in the hobby; now you have to know how to put it together in a soldierly manner. This page will cover the basic information of how to pack the M1928 Haversack, your Cartridge Belt and Grooming Standards of a World War 2 G.I.
1. Grooming Standards
The standards of grooming in WWII Living History/Reenacting are the same as those used in Military Service during the Second World War. If one were to look at many period photos of WWII and observed the hair styles and facial grooming of soldiers in service, one would notice that soldiers not in the filed for long periods of time were clean shaven, all servicemen in camp or on base were required to be clean shaven. Officers regardless of time in the filed were required to be clean shaven.
Unless we are specifically asked to appear as soldiers at the front for a long period of time assume that your impression for a general event is of a soldier at camp.
2. Where to attach your gear
The U.S. Army FM-21-100 has specific regulations on where your gear is to be attached on your cartridge belt.
Starting from the left side of your belt;
The bayonet scabbard (when not attached to the M1928 pack) should be over the 2nd ammo pocket on the first set of grommets.
The canteen cover should be over the fourth ammo pocket, attached to the 3rd and 4th grommets.
The First Aid Pouch should be attached (on the right side) below the 6th ammo pocket on the 5th and 6th set of grommets.
3. Pistols, who gets issued them.
The topic of pistols comes up many times. Here is an informative article from the 100th Infantry Division (re-enacted) about the topic of pistols.
The M1911A1 Pistol in the ETO
Most reenactors portray members of an Infantry Rifle Company, and by the February of 1944 Table of Organization and Equipment (TO&E) there were only 10 pistols in the entire company with the pistols being issued to: “Gunner, machine gun”; “Gunner, machine gun, assistant”; “Gunner, mortar”; and “Gunner, mortar, assistant.” As such, all the pistols were issued to the gunners and assistant gunners in the Weapons Platoon of the Infantry Company. This is because, to quote FM 7-10 “Rifle Company, Infantry Regiment” dated March 18, 1944, “[t]he automatic pistol is an arm of EMERGENCY and individual DEFENSE.” This makes sense for members of the Company's Weapons Platoon because the main duty of the men carrying the pistols would be either manning the 1919A4 (or 1919A6) Light Machine Gun or the M2 60mm Mortar.
This trend continues throughout the Infantry Battalion. In the Heavy Weapons Company, the only men issued the pistols are the Gunners and Assistant Gunners for the M1917A1 Heavy Machine Gun and the M1 81mm Mortar with one of the ammunition bearers for the M1 81mm Mortar also being issued a pistol. In the Infantry Battalion Headquarters Company, only the battalion commander, the executive officer, and the gunner and the cannoneers in the Anti-tank Squads of the Anti-tank Platoon are issued pistols. Overall there only 81 pistols for the 35 officers and 836 enlisted men of an Infantry Battalion.
For those issued a 1911A1 pistol, according to the TO&E, each man was to be also issued: “Knife Trench, M3, with Scabbard, M8”; “Belt, Pistol or Revolver, M-1936”; and “Pocket, Magazine, Double Web, EM, M-1923”. Furthermore, the Ordnance (ORD) Standard Nomenclature List (SNL) from November 18, 1944, notes that every pistol is issued with “Holster, Pistol, Cal. .45, M1916 (hip)” as well as two additional magazines. “Holster, Pistol, Cal. .45, M3 (Shoulder) and M7” were to be only issued to “Flyers” and “Cavalry, Armored Force, and Tank Destroyer Force” respectively. Furthermore “Brush, Cleaning, Bristle (Wire) Round, Cal. .45, M5”; “Rod, Cleaning, Cal. .45, M4, Pistol”; and “Screwdriver, Combination, Hammer and Screwdriver” were to be issued on the basis of one per every five pistols. None of the units in the Infantry Battalion, as far as we could find, were authorized “Kit, Cleaning, Pistol, M1912” and thus they would have been provided the individual tools listed above. Of particular interest, the lanyard was only authorized for enlisted men in the Cavalry or Mounted Engineers.
As we can see, the United States Army saw the M1911A1 Pistol as a weapon for last resort, only to be issued to those for whom carrying anything larger, like a carbine, would be impractical. As such even company grade officers in the battalion were not authorized a pistol, only the carbine. Furthermore, the only holster authorized for use in the Infantry Battalion was the M-1916 holster, besides extra magazines and some odd cleaning supplies, very few other accessories were provided with the pistol to those in the Infantry Battalion.
4. Helmet Insignia
The 2nd Infantry Unit Insignia was painted on front of the M1 helmets of unit personnel. We replicate this practice in the unit; below is a guide to painting the Unit Insignia on the front of your helmet.